Affordable St. Croix, Sage Rods Reviewed

In the Seattle Times, Dan Nelson takes a look at two affordable fly rod series, the $280 Sage Flight series, and the $160 St. Croix Imperial series, which he notes compete with top-end rods for performance. “This medium-action rod allows pinpoint placements to fish even when cedars and vine maples crowd your casts. With this supple wand, I was able to bring to net 10- and 12-inch bull trout on the very narrow Wolf Fork River of Southeast Washington, and several respectable rainbows along the tree-lined Skate Creek near Packwood.”

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  • aw#5

    I have been fishing st. croix Avids and Imperials for 9 years now and they are among the finest flyrods available – period. What st. croix offers at the $160 – $225 range is what orvis, sage, rl winston (and many others) still manage to get away selling for three to four times that price. I urge everyone to pick up and fish an Imperial, or if you care to go one step fancier, an Avid, and I guarantee that you will be blown away, they cast beautifully, getting your fy exactly where you want it and they play fish beautifully too. These rods are the real deal.

  • Aaron

    To take it even a step further, I’ve been fishing with a 4 pc 9 foot St. Croix “Reign” series for a little over a year now (the cheapest series of rod they make), and I’ve been absolutely blown away by it.

  • Jason Beary

    I’ve never cast the Sage Flight. The FLi was a real disappointment to me, at least in the 8 wt. It was easily outcast by a 10 year old Orvis TLS model for about the same price. The St. Croix Imperial, as I found it, clearly outclassed their top-of-the-line Legend Elite. It has that “holy grail” of being both smooth and fast, casting both close and far with aplomb. Its weight is competative with most good 4 piece rods. My ONLY gripe is that it feels like you taped eight or ten quarters to the middle of the rod. I didn’t notice it until I cast it and not during the in-house fly rod ‘wobble’. I’m not the very most picky fly rod caster, but this just jumped out at me. But basically everything else, including the appearance was quite good to very good. (don’t expect all the finish work to be great in such a priced rod. It just takes too much work and time. Time = money )

  • J Blevins

    I fish only with St. Croix. You can not beat them in my opinion, and every person I hand mine too can not believe how well they cast.

  • Robert Morselli

    Jason (et al),
    The reason your St. Croix is that “holy grail of being both smooth and fast, casting both close and far with aplomb” is BECAUSE the rocket scientists at St. Croix designed it to have a weighty mid-section. I have one as well I agree with everything you say (except that I’d qualify it as a med-fast rod and not fast). I don’t know how easy or difficult it is to copy a blank recipe, but if I were St. Croix I’d guard that recipe viciously. It’s far and away the sweetest rod out there – I lent it to about 5 or 6 fishing buddies so far. The result? Each of them went out and purchased their own. That Imperial blank is nothing short of legendary.

  • Ron Shy

    My favorite rod is a St Croix Imperial from 1998. The 6wt 4 piece rod has tamed huge bows in Alaska, salmon in Michigan and stripers on the Chesapeake Bay. It is my “Old Reliable.” I got it on sale for just over $100. I have a few other St Croix rods, Avid and Legend Elite. Though a little stiffer than the Imperial, they are not better, IMHO. If I were only allowed one brand of fly, or spinning rod, it would be a St Croix.

  • chuckster

    I have been fly fishing for a little over a year now and I started out with St. Croix becauase I like thier spinning rods. I have used the Reign and the Avid series rods for trout, blue gill, and smallies. St. Croix rods have made my experience with fly fishing a very good one. These rods are affordible and they made learning how to cast a breeze. I would recommend St. Croix to any angler no matter what stage they are in, be it beginner or expert.

  • Paul G

    I would love to try the St Croix Imperial. I own an Elite and an Avid and they are fine. I own 20 fly rods and have cast many others. Regardless of price, the Sage Z-Axis is my favorite.